If you are looking to start mixology as a hobby or a career, one thing you will need to learn is how to strain a cocktail. There are several different types of strainers with unique ways of using them, but all of them share the same purpose: to strain the liquid into a delicious and smooth cocktail.
There are different types of bar strainers, and they are all used in different ways to create perfect drinks.

Types of Strainers


Gold Hawthorne strainer, copyright A Bar Above

A Bar Above Hawthorne Strainer, Copyright A Bar Above








Hawthorne Strainers

The Hawthorne strainer is the most common strainer you will see in most bars and restaurants where they mix drinks. The strainer has a handle that is connected to a flat, round plate with several holes for straining.
These strainers come with two or four tabs to hold onto the top of the glass or shaker without locking. There is a coil that is connected to the plate in a semicircle so it fits nicely and is easy to remove. The design allows for a snug fit in a shaker or a glass and reduces drips and spills.
For drinks that are shaken, this strainer filters out a lot of the large pieces of fruit and ice that you don’t want in the cocktail.
Straining a cocktail with a Hawthorne strainer in a bar

A Bar Above Hawthorne Strainer, Copyright A Bar Above


How Do You Use a Hawthorne Strainer?

Place the strainer in a mixing glass, pint glass, or shaker tin with the coil facing down. Take your index finger and middle finger, and place them on top of the strainer to hold it in place while holding the glass with the other fingers near the top.
You can also use two hands while you get used to it. Tip the tin over, and pour the liquid through the strainer into your serving glass. When you are done, clean the springs so you don’t have any food particles that are stuck to them. You can also use a little brush to clean the coils thoroughly.
Julep strainer with stirred cocktail

A Bar Above Julep Strainer, Copyright A Bar Above


Julep Strainers

The julep strainer was designed so that drinkers of the Mint Julep could enjoy their beverage without getting the ice falling all over them. The strainer then became a bar strainer until the Hawthorne became more popular. The julep strainer looks like a big flat spoon with holes that are designed for drinks that you stir in a mixing glass.
Straining from a mixing glass with julep strainer

A Bar Above Julep Strainer, Copyright A Bar Above


How Do You Use a Julep Strainer?

Place the julep strainer inside the glass with the bowl of the spoon facing down. Hold the julep strainer between the handle and bowl. Use your finger to grasp the glass firmly close to the rim. Tip the mixing glass, and pour the liquid into the serving glass.
Fine mesh strainer

A Bar Above Fine Mesh Strainer, Copyright A Bar Above


Mesh Cocktail Strainer

A cocktail fine strainer is shaped like a cone, similar to a coffee filter. The fine strainer fits into the mixing glass or shaker tin and has a mesh that finely strains any leftover chunks of herbs, fruit, ice, or egg whites that might have gotten through the Hawthorne or julep strainer.
The ultra-fine mesh strainer is usually used with another strainer and creates smooth and professional-looking drinks.

A Bar Above Hawthorne and Fine Mesh Strainers, Copyright A Bar Above


How Do You Use the Mesh Cocktail Strainer?

Using a fine strainer with another strainer is called double-straining. To do this, you place your regular strainer on the shaker tin and place the fine mesh strainer on the serving glass. When you tilt the shaker over, you pour the liquid through both strainers, thereby double-straining the liquid.
Long handles on a fine mesh strainer work best when double-straining. This type of strainer is sometimes also called different names such as superfine sieve, tea strainer, and skimmer spoon.
Boston Shaker

A Bar Above Boston Shaker, Copyright A Bar Above


Straining with a Boston shaker

When you use the Boston shaker to strain ice out of a drink, it is called “breaking the shaker” and doesn’t need a separate strainer. Open the seal of the shaker just a crack, and slowly pour the drink into a serving glass through the gap.
You need to be skilled to do this, so it does take some practice and probably some spills and leaks until you get it right. It won’t strain out herbs, seeds, or other smaller pieces you don’t want in the drink, so you may still want to invest in a strainer.
When you decide to engage in mixology for work or for pleasure, learning how to filter a drink through one or two strainers is an important skill.
The different strainers you use all take some getting used to, so practicing how to use them before entertaining and mixing drinks is a good idea. The strainers are all designed to be easy to use and create the best drinks possible.